tv The Clean Air Act of 1990 CSPAN June 8, 2014 8:00pm-8:56pm EDT
what was said there was no real will to take in the refugees. so again, i think the onus goes back to the united states in terms of what the united states could have done after negotiations broke down with cuba. everyone forthank coming and staying so long. >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span three. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. tv,ext on american history a panel of george h w bush's former advisers recall passage of the 1990 clean air act and the negotiation between president bush and capitol hill democrats that made it possible. this is from a conference marking the anniversary of
george h bush's presidency. it is about an hour. delightful to join many in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the presidency of george w. bush. -- george h.w. bush. this panel will focus on environmental impact and i am delighted to be joined by two people who played pivotal roles in the passage of that -- gradyon, bob brady and senator alan simpson. we are going to try to do three things in this panel. first, we are going to pose the act,ion, did the clean air in practice over the last 15 years, fulfill the promise and intent of its creators?
we often, in public policy, and up -- end up making claims about what will happen if we do x or y. but it is constructive, among other things, to go back and see if the promises that were being made about its proponents actually occurred. atare secondly going to look the way in which the clean air act was fashioned within the executive branch and the proposal that was developed before president bush sent it to congress. third, you are going to look at how the legislation actually got past -- passed and, in particular, focus on the action in the senate with respect to securing this legislation. bob grady,us turn to
the chief speechwriter for president bush during his 1988 campaign. bob was the one who came up with the wonderful line that the time for study has ended and the time for action has arrived. once president bush got elected, bob served at the associate director of the office of management and budget for national resources, energy, and science, and played a pivotal role -- i think it is fair to darmin garment -- dick effectively outsourced the environmental portfolio to bob and bob is going to talk to us about how the act has impacted practice. >> i tell people that my -- are in my suitcase. [laughter] i was just getting twitchy
there. [laughter] so i am just relaxed and ready to go. >> here we go. first, let me say what an honor it is not only to be on the panel, but good friends with dr. porter and senator simpson. other speakers said, such a privilege to be here at this reunion celebration. the privilege of serving in the administration of this not only wonderful president, but great man, was probably the greatest honor and one of the most fun experiences of my life. [applause] now to judge whether this clean air statute worked, i want to take you back in time. bush ran forh.w.
the presidency. the environment was a much vigor issue than recently. that was we were coming out of an era where we discovered over 1000 sites around the country. the air pollution in the united states was terrible. in many cities, we had smog in los angeles. think about los angeles. they exceeded the health daysards for smog on 188 of the year. in other words, half of the days in l.a. in a year, it is unhealthy to go outside. pollution was washing up on the shores of new jersey and, famously, the boston harbor. there was some argument about the health effects of acid rain, but there was no question that lakes in the northeast, forests in the northeast, were being denuded of trees.
people like the governor of new hampshire and senator olympia is here, we were very worried about that. canada was tougher on the impacts of acid precipitation and prime minister morgan he, a very close friend of this president, spoke about it quite a bit. so people were concerned. if you roll the clock forward that, one of the reasons the environment has not been quite as much an issue is that the environmental laws we have enacted in the last 45 years have actually worked very well. our air and water are cleaner. conditions in the rivers are safer to swim in. our landfills are safer.
we have measurable health results to show that. believef those laws, i there is a very strong case that the single most effective has been the clear act amendment of 1990. i think it would be accurate to say that this is the most effective environmental statute ever enacted. why do i say that? , the clean air act is still in the books today and still working well. 23 years later, it still has an effect. more importantly, the actual result of the statute has been staggeringly effective. fixed criteria air pollutants, carbon monoxide, smog, lead, etc. but in the 23 years since this law was enacted, the
beenntrations annually has reduced very dramatically. from 1990 to 2012, according to the epa -- people might not know this, but the epa has monitors all around the country. have monitors of all these different pollutants. the ambient 2012, concentration of carbon monoxide in the air is down by 75%. the amount of lead in the air is down by 87%. the amount of nox, nitrogen oxide, is down by 50%. the amount of fine particulate matter is down by 40%. the compounds, smog, down about
50%. sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain, down 72%. if you add all that up, our air 67% fewer pollutants floating around in it then it had 23 years ago. annual emissions are down sure -- are down very sharply as well. you think of how much came out of every smokestack in 1990 and measure it against 2012, carbon monoxide is down 65%. lead annual emissions are down. particulate matter is down 57%. sulfur dioxide is down 72%.
americans live with much cleaner air. a practical explanation of what that means. , the health-based 188dards for smog, l.a. was days. in 2013, 25. not far from here, in houston, the second-worst city in terms 1980, they were out of containment 80 days. last year, 10 days. baltimore, another city we have had a big problem with. in 1988, 65 days. last year, 4 days. by the way, that is despite the epa has moved the goalposts. in other words, the standards are tighter than they were.
they are about 30% more difficult to reach as of late. if they had not moved the goalposts, we would have gone to zero in most of the country. this is really important. timeframeplace in a in which your economy is almost three times as big as it was in 1990. trillioneconomy was $6 in 1990. it is $17 trillion today. even as you just that for inflation, our population in that time is up 20%. the amount traveled is up 25%. theeconomy is bigger, population is bigger, people are driving more, but emissions are 65%-70% across-the-board. it is really quite remarkable. in addition to those six
criteria and other things that had never been regulated before, there was a problem, something called air toxics. these were never actually controlled by the law. in 1974 and 1977, congress passed a law about a margin of safety. a u.s. court of appeals decision written by the late robert bork said it was zero so the epa could never figure out how to regulate it. in 1990, we created a framework for regulators using available technology. today, the epa regulates a list carcinogensifiable coming out of plants around the country and emissions of those
air toxics are down 73%. now, one reason that all of that became possible, reducing air carbonby 73%, reduce monoxide, and have the economy unlikeboom, was because, much of today's lawmaking, we took lost into account. we agreed in terms of how to do things in the most cost-effective way. that, most clear example the clean air act's signature program, the first ever to , sulfuracid rain dioxide, mainly from power plants. i went to the domestic policy council in the roosevelt room and we presented president bush
with three options. -- from power top plants that 4 million tons. we could reduce by 8 million tons and 10 million tons. the president picked the most ambitious target, to cut it in half, to cut it by 10 million tons. we were definitely afraid of the cost. analyses from the consulting firm about where your costs would get out of control. what we were able to do was cut it in half because we had an innovative program to allow the trading of sulfur dioxide emissions. they could sell excess emissions to another plant and it would be more expensive to install control. that was also the key to the political conundrum. it used to be the reason that there was no acid rain, the people who lived in states in
the midwest, they said, this is a national problem. people who live on the coast said, wait a minute, we should not pay a national tax. the trading system was an ingenious way to solve that political conundrum. people in the midwest could sell those excess emissions allowances to the people on the coast. it was sort of a voluntary way of subsidizing, but it was not an actual tax and it was the key to solving the political problem. here are the results from that. in 1990, there were 23 million tons of sulfur dioxide. are 6 million. so we overachieved. cost, he actually did it at a much lower price. were debating we
and enacting this bill, it would to reduce $700 per the cost. the electric facility said it would be $1500. if that is the case, just do not control and you can pay the penalty. of a tradedprice ton of sulfur dioxide was $125 a ton. literally 1/5 the cost of what we expected at the time. say that the trading system is now kind of frozen. i am not going to take the time to talk about that now. you look at the measured benefits versus the measured study according to an epa
, i read it prior to coming here, the benefits of the clean air act are 30 times the measured costs. requirement, the benefits and costs of this statute. the last one was in 2011 and they modeled that the annual cost was about $40 billion a year. half of that changes to cars. 20% is cost of electric eels. was 1.5 --benefit $1.25 trillion a year, literally 30 times the cost. others was avoiding premature more or tell it -- premature
tality from mor breathing in things like particles. course, they project to 2020 and say it with the benefits of $1 trillion and cost of $6 billion. not everything in the law came out as expected. is, inng that happened wyoming, a second rail line was built. the clean air act has been a tremendous benefit to the state of wyoming. act is becausehe it embodies the concept of freedom of choice in terms of how to comply. end, if you look at this
law, i think you can take three lessons away from it. perhaps from this great president, george w. bush -- h.w.e h the bush -- george bush, to future presidents. callve the old paper roll from the clerk framed and and it is my study signed by bob dole and alan simpson. it passed the house 401-21. compare that to more recent stats, where one party jammed it down the throats of the other party. why it will not stand the test of time.
i will borrow a line from senator simpson. if you do not believe in compromise, you probably should not run for congress. sure, you do not get married. [laughter] >> do you still stand by that? >> the second lesson is cost-effectiveness. the effect on the economy does matter. law, was bush, in this realistic in balance. we talked about the process. at one seminal moment, we sent a letter to the hill saying we would not sign the bill. than $20 billion a year in 1990. atyou look at the cost today $40 billion a year, it is up
about $20 billion. the law is still holding the cap that we put in. something thats allowed us to control emissions while still having the tremendous economic growth that we have had. and the last one is leadership. case, the president did not just articulate principles, we spent six months in a very dense process with a lot of people involved and sent out a 420-page bill. everybody was negotiating off of our piece of paper. so those are three key lessons. a final point. ofair was just one of a list major environmental accomplishments by this president. he launched the cleanup of new yorkharbor, baltimore, new
, los angeles, seattle harbor. ofhink my most favorite day the entire 1988 campaign was the day we went up to boston, behind enemy lines, and gave a speech about boston harbor and sailed around in a little boat. they put copies of the boston herald on the press bus and everybody was cheering. congressman bush was actually tied in massachusetts at that point. before that, the president had been given a hard time by the of coffee.lash one time, he said something wrong and said he was in deep doo-doo. we did this calculation. if you took all of the sludge that the governor has dumped in boston and spread it over the 40
towns that made up the massachusetts water development authority, it would cover those towns to a depth of 17 feet. talk about deep doo-doo. [laughter] list, he down the proclaimed no loss of wetlands. people said we were crazy to do it, but here is the interesting thing. 2003,e first time, in because of things enacted by this president, the united states has been a net gain or -- gainer of wetlands. so that came through. had 57 total new wildlife refuges. boat expansion of parks,
ramps, trails. plan for aeaded a billion trees. cleaned up and oil fell and passed a statute to require double hulls in the oil tankers. made all the landfills and the country safer and revolutionized a landfill industry in the united states. -- in augustthis 1988, he went to michigan and he went to boston harbor, yours a shore, delaware, and he promised all of these things. he said he would expand the parks. in short, what he said is i will be the environmental president. today, i do back not think he has gotten enough
credit. the interest groups have become so partisan, but by george, he made good on that promise. [applause] >> thank you. much, bob. much, bob.u very that reminds me of a poem that came out shortly after the clean air act had been passed, where environmental organizations to the president, and there were very few high grades. a couple of b's and some c's. after very disappointing having passed the most significant piece of environmental legislation in our history. i remember walking in one in the oval office and the president looked up and
said, did you read this morning's paper? theid, are you referring to report card that you received? and he said, yes. i said, well, what do you think? he said, well, i am not going to send it home. [laughter] and i said, you know, mr. , i do not agree with the report card. but that is not why you did it. you did it because it was the right thing to do. and there will be other report cards later and my guess is it will be much better. out, thoseointed report cards 25 years later are now coming in and it is a very impressive record indeed. the question is, how did this happen? officeesidents come into
, they have to make a set of decisions about people and about processes and priorities. i think it is very interesting. when president bush came in, he appointed bill riley as his administrator of the epa, someone who had a great deal of credibility and was a very strong administrator. watkins asd james secretary of energy, someone with a lot of credibility and stature in the energy field. he appointed as his white house sonunu, staff governor who had a great deal of expertise and understanding about environmental issues. to hisinted gordon gray white house counsel, who had a a love andn for and
interest on environmental issues. assistant fors economic and domestic policy. people like bob grady, the office of management and budget. and the council of economic advisers. so he assembled a group of people who had differing , but a lot for sure of passion and interest on this issue. decided that the way in which he was going to go about making decisions was through a process which has become known as multiple advocacy. that is a process in which the white house engages with departments and agencies in a very open and transparent process so that the president is presented, as bob pointed out, with a series of options that
reflect a great deal of expertise that has been assembled from all across the it ministration so that he can make an informed decision. presidents have to worry about priorities. when president bush came in, it is worth noting that if you look 13the presidents, the last we have had since franklin roosevelt, nine of them came ofo office with majorities their own parties in both houses of congress. one of them, ronald reagan, damon to them with a majority -- a republican majority in the senate and a democrat majority in the house. only three presidents came in to office with opposition majorities in both houses. of those three, the one with the largest opposition majority of
any president in u.s. history was george h.w. bush. so he had to decide, when he came in, how am i going to try to provide leadership in a situation in which i am going to be dealing with a congress that has large opposition majority? and so, in his very first address to the joint session of congress on february 9, 1989, he announced that a series of priorities, proposals that he would be making, including one to deal with the comprehensive clean air act. this was an indication, on his part, that he was prepared to spend the political capital that he had on an issue in which it had effectively been gridlocked
for the previous 13 years. it reflected a very courageous decision on his part. the 400-plus page proposal that was advanced, we engage in aid to prop -- in a process that included all the departments and agencies and also involved, thanks to the offices of good people like fred mcclure, who helped to arrange these meetings, over 20 meetings with republicans and democrats, house and senate, in advance of the president's decision, engaging them and asking them what they thought and what their biggest objectives were and what their biggest concerns were. we similarly met with more than two dozen outside groups, environmental, agricultural,
industrial, to get their ideas. so the president had to make the choice that he did about what he was going to advance in this proposal. fact, a good amount of information available to him those in the congress were coming from and where those in the organize interests were coming from. how he makes this proposal. me to go up and talk who was chairman of the house energy and commerce committee. , who wasnator mitchell -- this was a big passion of senator mitchell. -- to see what they what their view was. itn engle said, appreciate
coming up, but we are not even going to hold hearings on it. this is going to be a highly contentious issue in the house. i am not going to have a bloodbath over this because you are never going to get it through the senate. ,e frequently referred to me which i treasure. he said, young man, you do not realize -- you have to get 60 votes for anything in the senate and you will not be able to get 60 votes in the senate. people have been trying for over a dozen years and it will not happen. well, thehim, president is going to ask what the result of this conversation is. if we get a bill out of the senate, will you agree to bring a bill out of your committee to
the floor of the house and get it passed in the house so we can take it to congress? he said, you will not get it out of the senate, but if you do, i will agree to that. sure enough, he did. question, how the did we get it through the senate? [laughter] ,ecause, when the bill went up we had the cost at $19 billion a year. and the senate environment and public works committee, on which senator simpson sat, produced its own bill which it costed out at $42 billion a year. we are at $19 billion and they are at 42% -- $42 billion. our bill only had 92% of the benefits that their bill did. they were virtually identical in terms of the environmental benefits. and so then, something very interesting happened. senator mitchell, who would like
to have been with us today -- and let me share with you a letter that he wrote. because we invited him to be here on this panel. you for inviting me to the celebration of the 25th anniversary. i am honored by the invitation and regret very much that i am not able to attend. unfortunately, i have a long-standing business commitment. i especially regret dissing the discussion on the clean air act amendments of 1990. looking back, it was a good example of bipartisan cooperation on legislation dealing with an important national problem. regardless of the outcome, it was the decision of president to support clean air legislation within a month of his administration. president bush announced that he would propose legislation for
new, more effective clean air act, including acid rain. his courageous decision made action on clean air legislation possible. suddenly, dramatically, the question shifted from will there be a clean air act to what will be in the clean air act? i was impressed and heartened by statements.t's although none of us could have known it at the time, there began a process that lasted nearly two years. as you know, there were many ups and downs, many struggles and setbacks. but it finally came together and culminated in the clean air act amendments of 1990. and then he quotes the national resources defense council. clean air act is a genuine american success story and one of the most effective tools in
u.s. history for protecting public health. manyrdc estimated, among other health benefits, that the 1990 amendments saved nearly 2 million lives. for that outcome, president bush is urging great credit. please extend to him and your guests my sincere regret that i am not able to be there for the support and well-deserved celebration. with my best regards, george j mitchell." [applause] now, at the heart of what went on in the senate was alan simpson. at the time -- and this is true -- at the time, alan simpson ,erved as the republican whip the number two position in the republican leadership in the senate.
george mitchell was the majority leader. abdul was the minority leader. and alan simpson was his right-hand person. to bob doleell went and said, will you join me in going to the president with a proposal? i am not going to bring the administration's bill to the floor. if i bring the environmental public works committee to the floor -- public works bill to the floor, it will not get 60 votes. what we would like to propose is a negotiation to produce an administration leadership agreement. dole, will produce a majority of republicans. i will produce a majority of democrats and the president will agree to it. and the president agreed. hours,ittle over 130 over the next month, that very
1990, wein march of negotiated in the conference room there, the majority leader's conference room. tohought it would be great have senator simpson share with us some of his recollections of both the negotiations that occurred and what happened when the bill got out on the floor and the flurry of amendments dissented. first, you can see how it passed with this technician over here and this skillful socratic professor over here. first of all, i want to say it is a joy to be here for me and for ann.
1962.st met george in his father had just left the u.s. senate and my father had just been elected to the u.s. senate. dad took over prescott bush's office. and so i met george bush. he was out there helping the old man fill up boxes or something. when dad went to the senate -- when dad left the senate four years later because of his health, they gave it to a nice, young congressman and his wife from texas, barbara and george. and so it goes way back. it has been an absolute joy. , weave fished in glaciers have been on trips, we have hunted, we have legislated, we have left. -- laughed. for a guy who loves jokes and good humor, the only thing about george is he can never remember
a punchline. [laughter] even if he just heard the joke an hour before. he is not here. he knew i would say something like that. the road to the white house, that was a rate night. the snowaid, look at out there. we should go throw snowballs. which we did. he did things which were light and loving and fun because politics was barbaric. barbariclet it be because what would he do without family and friends? that is the essence of the man. he is the most decent man i have he is alwaysd there to pick up a wounded warrior.
rossi went to the pen and it was a sad thing. the first guy that contacted him in the pen was george. the reason it passed was because he knew all of the guys he worked with in the house love him. -- loved him. because he knew sonny montgomery and he knew these people. laws not a government of and not men, it is a government of men and women who know the law to try to make it work. forget howill never i was at a popularity rating of 3%. himd been doing labor for and this was cheerful work that i was out there doing, getting chopped to bits by every group in america.
he was at 93%. -- ata call at 6:00 in one morning -- i never get up at 6:00 a.m.. he gets up and listens to country music at 5:00 a.m. he said, did you read the washington post again? i said no. he said, they nailed you again. i said, good of you to call, george. he said, how would you like to go to camp david for a couple of days? i say, that is great. i knew he -- i knew what he was doing. he said, come over to the white house first. he is signing something, lupe, left hand scribbling, and i said, i would come out under a blanket and get into the aircraft. he said, no, you will not. go out and ann will
there. you are going to wave to the press that has been chopping you to bits. he put his arm around me and got on the chopper and we had a wonderful time. morning, he is going through all the papers, which he did, and then he watched five television sets at once. i said, turn it off, for god's sake. you are going to get ulcers and heartburn from looking at this. yorke the picture, new times, senator simpson joining president bush at camp david. there, we were sitting up just laughing and telling stories. i said, i know what you are doing here. you are picking up your wounded
duck friend and putting me back together. he said, yeah. now let's talk about something else. bush.s short that is who he is. [applause] mitchell, a magnificent man, i was the assistant leader for bob dole for 10 years. cranstongues were al and wendell ford. me today andp to said, you are al cranston. no. [laughter] me, but --ike and the same first name. that really happens to me. it is not funny. [laughter] cranston was a good egg. when george mitchell sat in that
room, my job was to go around to my people and i would say, is there anything they are working on in their that gives you heartburn? they are working on the clean air act. wait a minute. i said, you are going to go into that room and you are going to tell what you are paying. so i round them up. complaints about the clean air act? if you do not, you do not need to go into the room. but if you do, good people from both parties and george patiently coming out of the majority office to join at the table. we did not have a loving relationship, but we did get there. , he i taught at harvard
brought his grandson and we told about how the two of us used to tear each other to shreds and that is another strategy -- aumther story, but metzenb put an amendment in that coal of itsbe reduced by 60% sulfur. wyoming was already below that. i said, what the hell is this percentage reduction where we are already lower than where you could ever get it? he said, that is what we are doing. i said, you are not doing it to me or wyoming. so he said, what can we do here? i said, you get off my back and i will get off yours on some other bills. metz made his deal and it was well-received. mitchell worked together beautifully. we worked until 1:00 or 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. i came out at one morning -- one
morning at 2:00 in the morning and here were a bunch of were young, green, they had turned to dislodge. i said, what are you guys doing out here? you look like you are all worked up. they say, we are working out how to beat mitchell and -- in the next election. i said, you need an injection of something. go home and go harm someone else. from that came the bill. andbill came to the senate george said, you cannot go anywhere without word -- bird. bird had a stamp on his head that said "high sulfur coal above god." [laughter] and it was emblazoned. it was like harry potter -- [laughter] in and george said,
robert, this is it. this is the serious business. we all sat for maybe half a day. amendment put an about high sulfur coal that will be the end of the bill. and i do notit was want that to happen, but i just have to reserve my options. i will not do anything destructive. we just kept moving but it was not getting anywhere at all. finally, we had to go to the floor and we were doing well. in came the byrd amendment. it was that snow has a blaster. it was a camp -- it was best known as a blaster. it was a camp clearer. it was a personnel were nate -- grenade.
he just got out there and did it. all of us were shocked. do not forget, he had awesome powers and he had lined up those guys for weeks. there is going to come and amendment and i will need you. you know what i have, the appropriations committee, i have 13 earmarks of yours just waiting to be dealt with. and they will be dealt with. and you know that. biden, this isoe it. i will never forget it. do,reason i love joe, and i he gets his foot in his mouth as much as i do. [laughter] so joe gave the most powerful amendment ands borin got up and said, if
this amendment goes in, george bush will veto this bill. you heard one of those stories moments ago. said, now, i do not believe that. i do not believe that at all. not true.hat is just you cannot let something go like that when it is your signature piece. it was a beautiful thing as joe said it. he went back into the room and i called bush and said, george, call him and tell him you will veto the bill without question if this amendment goes through. so i looked through and george was right there. it could not have been a second afterwards he and i heard joe , you really mean that, mr. president? he said, i could see that the
hook was set and so joe came back out after a while of debate and he said, i have been personally advised by the president of the united states that he would indeed veto this powerfully-important bill if this amendment by my friend robert byrd should pass. he said, this causes me tremendous pain but, under that circumstance, knowing this president as i have come to do, i know that he will veto this bill. therefore, i will have to vote against. byrd, oh -- [laughter] , it was, it was very special to me. amendment wentd down by one vote because bennett
johnson, who would have been went to a-- he funeral of a friend of his and so he would have had to vote had been because byrd working him over for six months. he was down, it went down by one, and we skipped it through the voting. the final is one that my pals have never heard. apparently, according to paul, a dear friend, i saw him about eight or 10 years ago and he said that one day in the democratic caucus of the senate, that biden gave the most striking talk about sticking with your position. stick with the caucus. when you make a pledge, you do this. i guess it was just marvelous.
and he said that as he finished, rose and said, senator biden, might i refresh your memory? [laughter] that was part of the game. was a great honor and a privilege to do it. once the thing passed, george and i were fishing in jackson. and george p. was with us. he was only 12. passed thet it senate or the house, i cannot remember. time., it was a joyous let me give you the definition of politics and then you know everything will be solved. it takes 10 seconds. in politics, there are no right answers, only a continual flow
of compromises among groups resulting in a changing, cloudy, and ambiguous series of public decisions where appetite and ambition compete openly with knowledge. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] 8:00 p.m. andy at midnight eastern, you can learn from leading historians about presidents and first ladies, their policies and legacies here on "the presidency." to check out our schedule, visit c-span.org. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. professor history talks about the landmark dred scott v.